Mel Tucker's Colorado Buffaloes have had two weeks to mend their bumps and bruises since their big win over (now) #20 Arizona State in Tempe.
The bye-week break came at a good time, with both Mustafa Johnson and Laviska Shenault having been injured early in the ASU game. Both are listed as game time decisions for the game tomorrow.
The 3-1 Arizona Wildcats will take on Colorado tomorrow and the Buffs are hoping to have Johnson and Shenault back on the field. Likewise, Arizona also hopes to have two of their best players back as well for the big game to decide first place in the Pac-12 South.
Quarterback Khalil Tate and running back J.J. Taylor both missed last week's game. Despite their absences, Arizona still managed to beat UCLA 20-17.
Tate has been nursing a bad ankle and sore hamstring. It's likely he desperately wants to be on the gridiron tomorrow. Two years ago, it was at Folsom Field that Tate burst upon the college football scene.
After Colorado knocked Arizona's starting QB out of the game, Tate came in and had a game for the ages. He rushed for 327 yards (an NCAA record for QB's) and four touchdowns. He also completed 12 of 13 passes for 154 yards and another touchdown. Despite the fireworks, Arizona just squeaked by, winning 45-42.
Last year in Tucson, Tate again lit up Colorado. But that game he did most of the damage with his arm. He threw for 350 yards and five TD's against the Buffs. Arizona won 42-34.
This year, first place is on the line. Nobody is sure if the star players from either team will play. But as Mel Tucker likes to preach, "Next man up!"
No matter who plays or who doesn't, the game will still count. And if the Buffs want to continue their winning ways, they need to take down Arizona for the first time since 2016.
A great deal will depend on Colorado QB Steven Montez. If he completes more than 65% of his passes, Colorado is 8-0 during his tenure as starter.
Whether or not Colorado can establish their own run game will matter a great deal as well. Likewise, stopping (or at least containing) Arizona's running game will be a key for getting a win.
Lastly, both teams are among the best in the country at creating turnovers. The team that wins this battle will greatly enhance their ability to win this game.